2017
Steven Spielberg’s The Kidnapping Of Edgardo Mortara, an adaptation of the 1997 book by Pulitzer Prize-winner David Kertzer, tells the story of a young Jewish boy in Bologna, Italy in 1858.

After having been secretly baptized, he is forcibly taken from his family to be raised as a Christian. His parents’ struggle to free their son becomes a pivotal event in the collapse of the Vatican as a secular power and an example of how a single human fate changed the course of history.

Mark Rylance stars as Pope Pius IX. This is his third collaboration with Spielberg – having won the Best Supporting Oscar for Bridge Of Spies (2015) and portrayed the title character in The BFG (2016). The cast is joined by Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

The Bridge Of Spies producing team of Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger serve as producers.

The screenplay is written by Tony Kushner who also penned the scripts for Munich (2005) and Lincoln (2012). He gave a copy of David Kertzer’s book to Steven Spielberg who read it twice and was convinced it would make a great movie.

The Amblin Entertainment production is slated for early 2017 – when Ready Player One will have wrapped – with an intended release in the fourth quarter of 2017, a perfect slot for awards season…

Steven Spielberg has often released double-salvos of films in one year. Now he seems to turn into a kind of “Woody Allen”, bringing out one film per year: Bridge of Spies in 2015, The BFG in 2016, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara in 2017, Ready Player One in 2018, and Indiana Jones 5 in 2019.

Artwork: © Amblin Entertainment

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2016
Oscar-Winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond dies.

He created a groundbreaking imagery on the Steven Spielberg-directed films The Sugarland Express (1974) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). The video clip demonstrates his progressive camera style that is influenced by documentaries.

According to a Variety obituary, he escaped from his native Hungary after the 1956 Russian invasion and slowly worked his way up, starting with low-budget exploitation
films. He got his break with Robert Altman’s stylistically daring Western McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), in
which Zsigmond applied a limited palate of desaturated colors.

He later worked for directors such as Michael Cimino, Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, George Miller and Brian De Palma

He received an Academy Award for his achievements on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and was a three-times nominee for The Deer Hunter (1978), The River (1984), and The Black Dahlia (2006).

Within just over a week, the film community loses another of its greatest cinematographers: Zsigmond follows two-times Academy Awards winner Haskell Wexler, who worked on some of the landmark Hollywood films of the 1960s and ’70s but never collaborated with Steven Spielberg.

2011
Exploring themes of nostalgia and modernism, Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris follows Gil Pender, a screenwriter (brilliantly portrayed by Owen Wilson), who travels back in time each night at midnight, while staying in Paris with his materialistic fiancée (Rachel McAdams). 

Spending time in 1920s Paris, he encounters the likes of Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates), Pablo Picasso (Marcial Di Fonzo Bo), his lover Adriana (Marion Cotillard), Cole Porter (Yves Heck), Zelda Fitzgerald (Alison Pill), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston), Joséphine Baker (Sonia Rolland), Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody), Man Ray (Tom Cordier), Luis Buñuel (Adrien De Van), T.S. Eliot (David Lowe), Henri Matisse (Yves-Antoine Spoto), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (Vincent Menjou Cortes), and Paul Gauguin (Olivier Rabourdin).

Midnight in Paris opens to critical acclaim and is commonly cited as one of Allen’s best films in recent years. In 2012, the film wins both the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay; and is nominated for three other Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Art Direction.

1998
In A Bug’s Life, a misfit ant, Flik, is looking for “tough warriors” to save his colony from marauding grasshoppers. Pixar’s second animation feature film is directed by John Lasseter (co-directed by Andrew Stanton) and co-produced with Walt Disney Pictures. The story is inspired by Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper and Akiro Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954). When Flik recruits a group of warrior bugs, they turn out to be an inept circus troupe – adding a touch of Federico Fellini. Main characters are voiced by Dave Foley and Kevin Spacey. Lasseter adds outtakes to the end of the film, depicting the animated characters as if they are real actors on a set who flub lines and commit bloopers.

During production, a public feud erupts between DreamWorksJeffrey Katzenberg, and Pixar’s Steve Jobs. Katzenberg, former chairman of Disney’s film division, wants to rival Disney by forming DreamWorks Animation. Its first film: Antz.

Antz (directed by Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson) tells the story of Z-4195, an individualistic worker ant, voiced by Woody Allen. Much of his trademark humor is present, because Allen himself contributes some uncredited rewrites to the script. Other characters are voiced by (and look like) Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Lopez, Dan Aykroyd, Anne Bancroft, Christopher Walken, and Danny Glover.

Both Antz and A Bug’s Life center around an insect with oddball tendencies struggling to win a princess’s heart by saving their society. A Bug’s Life is more family-friendly and lighthearted, whereas Antz appeals to teenagers and adults, its script leaning towards adult references as well as social and political satire.

Though DreamWorks releases Antz a month earlier, it is surpassed by Pixar’s competition at the box office: Antz performs modestly ($172 million), whereas A Bug’s Life grosses $363 million in receipts. Both films are praised by the critics.

1979
Woody Allen’s
Manhattan – the black and white romantic comedy is Allen’s cinematic ode to his hometown (and George Gershwin). An amusing, true-to-detail portrait of a New York intellectual’s life crisis, starring Diane Keaton and Mariel Hemingway.

Meryl Streep and Karen Allen play small parts. Steven Spielberg will collaborate with both of them: Allen is cast as Indy’s partner Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and Streep voices the Blue Fairy Mecha in A.I. – Artificial Intelligence (2001).